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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
Charles Town, West Virginia
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April 17, 2012     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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April 17, 2012
 

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SECTION Wednesday, April 18, 2012 F r - Page B3 Historic church - Page B4 - Page B2 I Called it/ BRYAN CLARK Spirit Staff I hope the good people.of Jef- ferson County will forgive me, but I need to take a minute to gloat. Last week Matt Groening, creator of the iconic, two-de- cade-running cartoon series The Simpsons, finally confirmed to Smithsonian Magazine what I had known for years: the show's fictional backdrop, Spring- field, is named after the town of Springfield, Oregon. Having spent eight years liv- ing in Eugene, Oregon - which borders Springfield - while at- tending the University of Or- egon, I had known this for years. Over the next fewdays,Gr0en- ing made efforts to back out of his statements. He said that he had never said that Springfield is in Or- egon, but rath- er that Spring- field was the name of his sled - a sly refer- ence to Citizen Kane . Then on Sunday, he had Bart write on a chalk board, "THE TRUE LOCATION OF SPRINGFIELD IS IN ANY STATE BUT YOURS." Groening is hamming it up a bit, but the cat, as they say, is out of the bag. For years various commen- tators had claimed that the true source of the show's inspira- tion was Springfield. Massa- chusetts. Springfield, Ohio or Springfield, Illinois. These commentators - moti- vated, no doubt, by their own bias based on a personal con- nection to one of the nation's sundry Springfields - ignore the numerous tropes of the Simpson universe that quite clearly draw their names and forms from the area surrounding Springfield, Oregon. Nearly every character in the Simpsons' microcosm is named o for a street in Portland, for ex- ample, Flanders Street, Quimby Street, and Loyejoy Street. Prin- ciple Skinner seems to be obvi- ously named after the founder of the City of Eugene, Eugene Skinner. The now-shuttered Trojan Nuclear Plant is also just out- side of Portland, Groening's hometown. The statue of Jebediah Spring- field - which was infamously beheaded by Bart in "The Tell- tale Head" - bears so striking a resemblance to The Pioneer, a statue which has held a central place on the University of Or- egon Campus since 1919, that there can be no doubt it was in- spired by it. And I have even had a drink or two in the bar that was quite obviously the inspiration for Mac's Tavern. It is called Max's Tavern and it is located on 13th Street, just beyond the main entrance to the campus. Springfield is one of the most common town names in the country. There are at least 34 cities and towns named Spring- field - including five in Wis- consin and one in West Vir- ginia. There are also some 36 Springfield Townships- 11 of which are in Ohio. Groening has indicated that part of the reason he chose the name Springfield is beCause of its ubiquity. He knew that Simp- sons fans all over the country would try to lay claim to the fictional universe, and, expert promoter that he is, he has not shied away from exploiting this fact to whip up controversy and See SIMPSONS Page B10 ROBERT SNYDER Engineer Chris Wallich brings the 2,000-pound locomotive, No. 9 to a sto~ih front of the Pr6sp6~-'l Hill depot at the Harpers Ferry Toy Train Museum and Joy Line Railroad. Last weekend was the start of the season for the Iongtime area attraction. A rail good ' to Harpers Ferry'o toy t i ~.#, seum and ..... which opened its ..... ......... Ic.iL'c;:5[ ~bd~.bU~ 1 last weekend GINA GALLUCCI-WHITE Special to the Spirit (~s four visitors board two train passenger cars, con- ~ ductor Chris Wallich emerges from the bright yel- low railroad station -- formerly a B & O Railroad " section car house -- and asks if they re ready for a ride on a train. After getting several "yes" responses. Wallich starts up the locomotive. April 7 was opening day for the Harpers Ferry Toy Train Museum and Joy Line Railroad. Wallich said his father named the railroad "Joy Line" be- cause people always felt joy when they were aboard for a ride. "We enjoy the people," Wallich said. "The children have a lot of fun with the trains." The railroad and collection began with Wallich's father, the late Robert Wallich Sr. who began collecting toy trains as a child and continued until his death more than 70 years later. In 1970, the Wallichs decided to share the collection with the public, opening the museum in a vintage Western Mary- See TRAIN Page Bg A toy train, powered by operator Donna Wallich lurches down the tracks at the Harpers Ferry Toy Train Museum and Joy Line Railroad. gry for what's fresh? g toward a farm market CHARLES TOWN - Imagine a time and place where there are no supermar- kets, and you're not a wealthy landown- er. Scary enough. But to get through the scarcities of winter, you must grow what you can store or preserve for the dark months. If the Win- ters are long, then much of the season might con- sist of eating pickled or salted cabbage, root vegetables like potatoes and turnips, and dried or smoked meat or fish (if you're lucky). No salad bars, no citrus, no pizza takeout to mollify a fam- ily suffering from cabin fever. Now imagine the world coming alive again in the spring. What a miracle it would seem, with its emerging edibles and the promise of summer fruits and vegetables, fresh fish and game. At one time, our forefathers and fore- mothers knew what they could eat that popped up naturally in the spring, be- fore gardens could be planted: poke sal- ad, ramps, dandelions, lamb's quarters, wild mustard. There are field guides you can buy which list all of the edible wild~ plants -- and there is an incredi- ble array of them -- but before the field guides, people had to know what Was safe and what was sorry. I know a few of them, but not everyone is up to the idea of eat- ing "weeds," as one friend calls my wild plant diggings. I have an- other friend from D.C. who pokes fun at me whenever I go out to for- age for something that didn't come in a cellophane bag. He calls my pickings "grass in the salad." Of course, you shouldn't try to eat some- thing that you're not familiar with; I limit myself to the few things I can iden- tify. So here we are not long past the vernal equinox and the days are slowly getting longer. I think that even in these days of 365/24/7 food availability, spring still means something in our food year. Like our ancestors, we see green leaves and buds sprouting up and out, and that still gets our modem eating and cook- ing clocks ticking. All that sprouting at least heralds the harvesting of raw and cookable greens, joined by perennials like asparagus and rhubarb poking up. If you're lucky, you might even have your secret spot of morels or hen-of- the-woods you're watching closely. I found a few morels last spring near a couple of old apple trees in a nearby field; I'm praying they'll come back this year. Spring also means the opening of farmers markets, and in Jefferson County that means the Sunday mar- ket in Shepherdstown and the Saturday market in Charles Town. I had looked forward to talking to See MARKET Page B3 ROBERT SNYDER On Saturday as the new Charles Town Farmers Market made its debut downtown, Beth Bell of Hedgesville-based Heirloom Italy connected with customers looking for naturally grown herbs.